Sunday, February 22, 2009

HeART of Scotland

As some of you may be aware, I have been in Scotland recently, with the implicit intention of moving to the West Coast – yes, it’s time again for a change. I’ve never lived in any place for more than six years, and I have been residing in Derby for 5 years now .. my internal clock is ticking with an anxious fury .. and I miss having a calming sea view .. no, it isn’t always cloudy, really ..

While in the area, I have been familiarising myself with Glasgow – Europe’s first ‘City of Culture’ .. naturally that includes visiting Kelvingrove Museum and Art Gallery .. an enormous and magnificent example of elaborate Victorian architecture, incorporating style from Spanish Baroque, especially the towers which were based on the church of Santiago de Compostela – originally opened with great fanfare in 1902, it was actually visited by the ‘Grandmother of Europe' herself ..
The Museum was designed in the pre-automobile-congested age and was intended to be approached from the path through the park, so this is actually the rear of the building ..

Here we see the cavernous West Wing with its juxtaposed ‘natural life’ and ‘Spitfire’ exhibits forcing a recontextualisation of the human role in our eternally evolving world of extinct creatures and creations ..

One of the main attractions of the Gallery is Salvador Dali’s ‘Christ of St John of the Cross’ .. this imposing and exciting piece is placed at the end of a long corridor, drawing visitors toward it high above the main gallery ..

Here’s a pic from the Museum website that shows more detail ..

In this picture it is possible to see the damage unfortunately inflicted by an apparently less-than-impressed knife-wielding visitor in 1961 ..

Alongside such luminaries as Monet, Pissaro, Gauguin, Seurat, Cezanne, Matisse and Renoir is the ‘Portrait of Alexander Reid’ by Vincent Van Gogh .. which, in my occasionally less than humble opinion was the stand-out piece in the ‘French Impressionist’ collection (apparently it qualifies for having been painted while the artist was staying in France) .. Although I am not a great admirer of representational art, the swirling of colour around the left eye is remarkable – who else of the period would have thought to include short sharp brushstrokes of green, red, orange, lilac and blue to create an overall effect of natural light and shadow on the face of his London art dealer? .. apologies, as no photo can do the work justice ..

The ‘Expression’ area of the East Wing is home to the hanging heads of Sophie Cave – the designer who installed these fun, flamboyant and frightening pieces following refurbishment of the building in 2006 ..

One of the places I have been visiting regularly, due to possible future commitments, is Glasgow University .. I was fortunate enough to attend a conference and interview with French philosopher Alain Badiou ..
Here, one of the towers of the historic buildings rises high above Kelvingrove Park ..

I will be updating as regularly as I can while I take my sabbatical in Scotland .. I have been offered a temporary position in a lovely little town along the coast, and look forward to a summer of peaceful contemplation, designing a new art collection, writing for publication and research for my expected return to graduate studies .. The future may be uncertain, but from my current perspective it looks like it will be filled with adventure, cultural highs, exciting new places to visit and interesting people to meet ..